ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Story of a Jailed Prince

Feudal Roots of Democratic Politics in Andhra Pradesh

Since May 2012 Y S Jaganmohan Reddy of the YSR Congress has been incarcerated in jail in Hyderabad as an accused in multiple financial scams and for amassing disproportionate wealth using his father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's political power. This article throws light on the historical and social roots of the rise of such personalities and illuminates the complex dynamics of democratic politics in Andhra Pradesh.

India has a long tradition of stories of kings and princes coming to power and establishing royal lineages. With the passage of time, intricate stories have been woven about their fall and dethronement through usurpation and depositions. These legends also emphasise the glory of their lives and point out their decline or fading into insignificance due to the circumstances of their creation and situations over which they have no control. From ancient to modern times these stories have enthralled listeners and formed part of everyday folklore as moral lessons on appropriate conduct.

The story I narrate below too is part of the legacy of a precolonial tradition, which, ironically, thrived under the colonial gaze and continued in postcolonial India to crystallise into a crucial grid for the mobilisational politics of electoral democracy. This is the story of the feudal factionists’ tradition, whose origins go back to the Vijayanagara empire in south India.

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